Things finally blew up with Joel. One evening after the kids were in bed I decided we couldn’t go on like this anymore. We hadn’t spoken more than pleasantries for ages and when I tried to pin him down he would get up and leave saying, “just get better” as he walked away.
I followed him around spraying him with questions, trying to force him to talk to me.
“Are you really happy?”
“What are we going to do?”
“We can’t go on this way.”
And finally, the real clincher, “This isn’t really a marriage. We don’t really love each other.”
That is when he blew.
“Who the hell do you think you are? I loved you always. Through everything. Through your bizarre behaviour, your depression, your rejection of the kids, your suspicious absences, your whims and crying jags. I never said a word. I even loved you through your desperate insecurities and need to prove your worth to those stupid women at The Club. Your obsessive exercise, your designer clothes and jewelry, your spa weekends away. I did whatever I thought would help you feel better. And I was ALWAYS there. I was committed to you and to this marriage. I still am.
Do you have any idea how hard it is to constantly keep my head held high? To turn the other cheek? To be the strong one? To hear the judgment and the gossip and just turn away? If this ‘isn’t a marriage’ as you say, that is because of YOU. That is all on YOU.”
I was frozen. To him it seemed so simple. In many ways I knew he was right, there was no question, but I also sensed that I was being manipulated. In fact, I had been feeling this for a while, a deep suspicion that my weakness and insecurity was Joel’s ticket to the “Perfect Wife”. I was easily influenced. I felt constant guilt and inadequacy and would do anything to please. A passing comment or suggestion from Joel became my newest obsession.
But I didn’t know that he even noticed it. He had never said a thing. During that whole time I didn’t even think he saw me at all, my attempts to please. I worked so hard to be this woman that I wasn’t all because I knew that is what Joel wanted, no needed, from me. And now he was twisting and turning it and using it against me when, in fact, all of these things had been his dream in the first place. But Joel was used to getting what he wanted. And he was used to being right. And he was not used to me challenging him. Ever.